State of the Union: Predictable, Disappointing and More of the Same

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Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

Washington, D.C. — “The State of the Union speech was predictable on trade, energy and food safety—that is to say, a huge disappointment.

“President Obama insists that he wants action to address income inequality, but the real beneficiaries of his economic and regulatory policies have been large corporations.

“While it’s good news that the President has focused long overdue attention on the minimum wage for federal contractors, this initiative pales in comparison to what his trade agenda would do to actually increase income inequality.

“These trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the U.S.-EU Free Trade Agreement are little more than corporate power grabs that will send more jobs abroad. They would increase exports of liquefied natural gas (which would mean even more pollution in American communities from fracking). These deals would also increase imports of potentially unsafe food, while declaring inferior food safety regimes abroad as equivalent to ours. Finally, these deals would render local laws and regulations subject to trade tribunals—imperiling our democratically enacted laws to protect consumers and the environment.

“On hydraulic fracturing, his administration has continued to protect corporate interests against communities affected by fracking. His administration has scuttled investigations into cases where communities’ water has been polluted by the oil and gas industry and has turned a blind eye to the massive climate impacts of fracking.

“On food safety, his federal budget this year would cut resources for proper USDA poultry inspections, an initiative that the meat industry is pushing to further deregulate the food system.

“After six years, it’s more evident than ever: this is not change we can believe in.”

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